If you are set to receive a portion of your ex’s retirement account via a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO), you earn the title of Alternate Payee. This is simply the title that ERISA law gives to anyone who will receive funds from another’s qualified retirement plan.
But becoming an Alternate Payee gives you more than just the title. You will also receive certain benefits, because you are considered a beneficiary of the plan. One of these is that you are entitled to receive copies of a variety of plan documents upon written request. These include a summary plan description, the latest annual report, any final annual report and the bargaining agreement, trust agreement, contract or other document under which the plan is established or operated.
While the plan administrator may impose a reasonable charge to furnish copies of these documents, the Department of Labor (the entity that oversees ERISA law) takes the position that once an Alternate Payee becomes a beneficiary under a plan, the Alternate Payee should automatically be furnished at least the summary plan description, summaries of material plan changes and the plan’s summary annual report.
For more information, see ERISA §§ 104, 105, 206(d)(3)(J), 404(a); 29 CFR § 2520.104b-1 et seq.